Combinatorial optimization for user interface design

Antti Oulasvirta*, Andreas Karrenbauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Combinatorial optimization offers a rigorous but powerful approach to user interface design problems, defining problems mathematically such that they can be algorithmically solved. Design is defined as algorithmic combination of design decisions to obtain an optimal solution defined by an objective function. There are strong rationale for this method. First, core concepts such as 'design task', 'design objective', and 'optimal design' become explicit and actionable. Second, solutions work well in practice, even for some problems traditionally out of reach of manual solutions. The method can assist in the generation, refinement, and adaptation of design. However, mathematical expression of HCI problems has been challenging and curbed applications. This chapter introduces combinatorial optimisation from user interface design point of view, and addresses two core challenges: 1) mathematical definition of design problems and 2) expression of evaluative knowledge such as design heuristics and predictive models of interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Interaction
EditorsAntti Oulasvirta, Per Ola Kristensson, Xiaojun Bi, Andrew Howes
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9780198799603
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book


  • Combinatorial optimisation
  • Computational design
  • Model-based user interface optimisation


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